Narrow bridges

On the Roads (and Bridges) Again: Plenty of Repairs Planned in WRV

Bridge 47 from Braintree to Snowsville will be closed this summer as crews work to partially replace the aging bridge superstructure, which shows signs of deterioration. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)

While Vermont is set to receive up to $2.2 billion in federal funds to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, a number of state and city-owned projects in the White River Valley should receive some long overdue repairs or overhauls. — with aging bridges and roadways high on the priority list.

Broken down by category when announced late last year, state-appropriated funds under the federal infrastructure program include $1.4 billion for federal highways and more than $200 million to replace or repair aging bridges, all of which will be disbursed by 2026.

rivers and Roads

In the White River Valley, several projects are expected to begin obtaining permits, begin construction or be completed during this year’s construction season.

Among the most visible of these are the iconic Sharon Interstate Bridges, which rise 83 feet above Highway 14 and the White River and span more than 800 feet at one end. to the other. Begun last April, the rehabilitation project for these 54-year-old bridges includes the installation of new deck drains as well as stripping and repair work on the structural steel components of the bridges. While repair work is underway, traffic on Interstate 89 will be one lane in each direction over the bridge which is not undergoing construction at this time. With a price tag of more than $10.5 million, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) expects the project to be completed in December.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to replace and rehabilitate Royalton Bridge 24 to provide greater vertical clearance, two lanes of traffic, and adequate shoulders for bicycle traffic.  (Provided)

The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to replace and rehabilitate Royalton Bridge 24 to provide greater vertical clearance, two lanes of traffic, and adequate shoulders for bicycle traffic. (Provided)

Only a fraction of the scale of Sharon’s monumental bridges, Bridge 24 in Royalton is another familiar landmark soon to undergo major rehabilitation. The subject and cause of periodic vehicle collisions, the 1908 Highway 14 Railroad Bridge causes the roadway to narrow to less than the standard width of a traffic lane and has a height clearance of just over 12 feet , low enough to foul truck fairings, crane arms, and stacked cargo items.

With approval slated for this summer, the AOT commissioned an engineering study last fall that recommended a complete replacement of the bridge, including two lanes of traffic, four-foot shoulders to accommodate bicycle travel, and clearance minimum vertical over 14 feet.

With a target construction period between spring and fall 2023, AOT notes that while it is underway, the replacement of the bridge will require a regional detour of more than 18 miles between I-89 exits 2 and 3. For this reason, the AOT will use an accelerated method of construction of the bridge to limit the duration of the detour once the project is underway.

In Braintree, another bridge project is due to start this year, as early as June. Bridge 47, which crosses Ayer’s Brook in Snowsville, is in need of a partial superstructure replacement at an estimated cost of $784,910. Like many Vermont bridges, Bridge 47 was built the year after the 1927 flood.

In the years since, the concrete T-beams that support the roadway have developed “widespread deterioration,” according to AOT reports, which also warns of spalling, delamination, longitudinal cracking and the possibility of full-depth holes which “may occur at any time.”

To address this issue, workers will close the bridge for 28 days (between June 20 and August 19), diverting traffic from Route 12 onto a 32.4-mile regional detour (along Route 12A) or a 6.7 mile local bypass road along Farnsworth Brook, Brainstorm, and Peth Roads) while they work on the superstructure.

Among planned bridge projects, the White River Valley will also see a number of state highways resurfaced during this year’s construction season, including 9.2 miles of repaving and guardrail work. along Highway 100 between Stockbridge and Rochester; the remaining repaving and ditching works along 14 miles of Highway 113 between Chelsea and Thetford; and the resurfacing of approximately 20 miles of Highway 12A from Randolph to Northfield.

Described as preventative maintenance rather than repaving, AOT documents explain that the Route 12A project

“will include the removal of existing lines, spraying the pavement with a rubberized asphalt and the immediate placement of asphalt-coated aggregates in the rubberized asphalt.”

Soak Ratings

According to a 2019 report by the Vermont Chapter of the American Society for Civil Engineers, Green Mountain State earned a “C” grade for the overall condition of its infrastructure, which included “C+” grades for bridges, “C+” for roads, “D+” for storm water systems and “D+” for sewage.

Part of those ratings, according to the report, is the state’s high percentage of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges, including 17% of the state’s highway bridges over 20 feet and more than 27% of city highway bridges. in the same length category.